I have a fair amount of experience using Stackexchange (mostly using Math.SE). One common concern for users is when a question or answer is downvoted. It is considered good practice to always provide a comment when you downvote a question or an answer. That way the poster will be able to rectify whatever might be the problem. This practice is, however, usually not enforced in any way by moderators.

I suggest that we all make it a habit to always provide a comment (unless sufficient comments already exist) when downvoting anything.

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    $\begingroup$ If there is enough support, we could ask StackExchange to allow you to downvote only you've commented. $\endgroup$ – user173 Mar 20 '14 at 13:45
  • $\begingroup$ @MattF.: If that is possible, then I would be all for it. $\endgroup$ – Thomas Mar 20 '14 at 15:09
  • $\begingroup$ See meta.matheducators.stackexchange.com/questions/133/… $\endgroup$ – user173 Mar 20 '14 at 20:31

I am a high rep Money.SE member. I agree that in a perfect world, a DV should come with a reason. It's not always going to happen. When I DV, I've offer a reason, and gotten a string of comments in return that were incoherent. I regretted making the comment. I vow that on this board I will DV sparingly, and offer a clear reason why.


Thanks, Thomas, for explaining the accepted 'good practice'. I gave one downvote (not to you). It is probably obvious why, because of the comment I left. Should I also mention in the comment that I voted the answer down?

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    $\begingroup$ Yeah, it takes a bit of time to get used to the way Stackexchange works. On that note, this answer should probably have been a comment to my question. All I am saying with my suggestion is that when you downvote question or an answer, you provide a nice comment explaining why you downvoted the post. Does that make sense? $\endgroup$ – Thomas Mar 14 '14 at 1:55
  • $\begingroup$ To be specific, on the visual pythagorean question, an answer gave as a proof something that is not. I said that. And I downvoted. I am hoping I've done that correctly. (I think I'm starting to see the difference between comments and answers.) $\endgroup$ – Sue VanHattum Mar 14 '14 at 2:04
  • $\begingroup$ I think you did the right thing. You provide a comment explaining why you don't believe the answer is correct. And then you downvoted because of that. That is exactly the way it is supposed to be. One might want to provide the comment first giving the poster an opportunity to edit his/her answer. $\endgroup$ – Thomas Mar 14 '14 at 2:08
  • $\begingroup$ Also: If you downvote and provide a reason, then you can undo the downvote is the poster edits his or her post and you no longer think it should be downvoted. $\endgroup$ – Thomas Mar 14 '14 at 2:09
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    $\begingroup$ "Should I also mention in the comment that I voted the answer down?" In my opinion, no. You've already given input to the OP (original poster); you do not need to specify that you downvoted. $\endgroup$ – Joel Reyes Noche Mar 14 '14 at 2:35
  • $\begingroup$ I agree with @JoelReyesNoche. $\endgroup$ – Thomas Mar 14 '14 at 2:40
  • $\begingroup$ I upvoted this answer as it was the correct action to take (It was my answer I suspect that you downvoted). The comment left directed my attention to improve the wording of the answer for future readers. In my opinion, this is what downvotes are meant to do! $\endgroup$ – Daryl Mar 14 '14 at 3:47
  • $\begingroup$ And yet, there are times my comment might be taken as criticism, so I start "I'm not the DV, but you might add/consider/clarify....." There are also times a bad typo creates an incorrect answer but context lets me just edit and the member's answer is fine. $\endgroup$ – JoeTaxpayer Mar 16 '14 at 14:55

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